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AFL Rounds 13 and 14

Better late than never. This recap of the last fortnight has an authentic Chinese air, I’m chain-smoking in a public place, spitting continually and sucking down some Tsingtao.

Adelaide

R13 Adelaide 21.21.147 d. Geelong 8.7.55 at Football Park
R14 Adelaide 15.11.101 d. Sydney 8.14.62 at the SCG

The Camrys are now warm flag favourites and are routinely referred to in the Melbourne press as the ‘Adelaide Androids’ and the ‘Crowbots’, born of coach Neil Craig’s predilection for training programs based on NASA fitness routines. A fortnight back the Cressidas brought Geelong’s nascent revival to a screeching halt, smashing the Cats to pieces at Foopall Park. Following a close-ish first quarter the Coronas blasted 7 goals to 2 in the second quarter and another 7 to 3 in the last. Brett Burton and Mark Ricciuto kicked 5 goals each as Tyson Edwards, ‘Stiffy’ Johncock, Simon Goodwin, Andrew McLeod et al ran rampant. Geelong actually won the pre-season final at Foopall Park, you may recall. The intervening week saw Craig sign a new 3-year contract; such events are sometimes followed by a huge slump, about the rest of the leeg’s only hope of stopping the Crowbots at the moment. But there was no immediate effect. Last Sunday against the Swans was billed as a Grand Final preview by some over-excited meedya types. Following a typically tight, low-scoring first stanza the Camrys took charge with 6 goals to 1 in the second term, Johncock bagged a (dubious) couple and Trent Hentschel proved a useful target. The Swans played better in the third quarter but didn’t put it on the board, Mick O’Loughlin missing an absolute sitter being symptomatic of their problems. A dropped Jude Bolton chest-mark allowed Ricciuto to boot a goal and the Camrys led by 28 points at the final change. The game opened up in the last quarter as the Bloods tried to pile on goals, but the style benefited the Camrys who won going away. Hentschel finished with 3 goals while Ricciuto managed 16 touches and 2 goals; Goodwin, Johncock and Marty Mattner were all very good. No serious injuries to report from either game and frankly, who can stop ‘em? Will Smith?

Brisbane

R13 Brisbane 8.23.71 d. Carlton 7.14.56 at the Gabba
R14 Melbourne 14.14.98 d. Brisbane 13.12.90 at the Gabba

A battling fortnight for the Lyin’s as the Aker saga rumbled away in the background. Round 13 saw a truly awful game of footy at the Gabba. No weather excuse could be made for a very ordinary display, the most gratifying part of it for the Brians (apart from the 4 points) being the efforts of some younger players; Cheynee Stiller was BOG with 28 touches off half-back and the match-sealing goal; Scott Harding, Michael Rischitelli and Joel Patfull all played well in support of usual suspects Simon Black and Luke Power. The following week, Melbun’s annual transferred ‘home’ game, was a much better contest. Black and spearhead Dan Bradshaw were outstanding as the Brians jumped the Deez to lead by 3 goals at the first break. Brisbun still led by 2 goals at half-time but didn’t have the depth of contributors of the Demuns. Melbun had clawed into a 1-point lead at the final change and seemed set to win comfortably with 4 of the first 5 goals of the final Mario. Majors from Aker and Jamie Charman pulled the Lyin’s back within a goal, but that’s as close as they got. Bradshaw finished with 8 goals and Black 36 disposals in superb individual efforts, Power, Stiller and Charman were good too. "We won last week and I suppose you always tend to feel better after a win. But tonight's opposition have been better performed over the past couple of months so it is all relative I suppose," Leigh Matthews said after the Melbourne game. "The fact that we were able to kick our first few shots was pleasing. I think we played pretty well and when they got in front we hung in there. We weren't too far away. Daniel Bradshaw had an exceptional night but we were probably a bit of a one man forward line." 

Carlton

R13 Brisbane 8.23.71 d. Carlton 7.14.56 at the Gabba
R14 Geelong 23.4.142 d. Carlton 11.11.77 at Docklands

Little joy in a long fortnight for the Blues. Expectations were . . . not high, but moderately aroused following the unlucky loss to the Weegs in Perth and reasonable effort against the Ruse. In a terrible game in Brisbane, the Lyin’s wayward goal-kicking kept the Bluies in it for a long way. Carlton led at korter-time by a point - 2.0 to 1.5 - but trailed for most it. Marc Murphy hurt his shoulder in a solid tackle from Lyin’ ‘minder’ Rob Copeland late in the first quarter and he’ll be out for a few weeks. Heath Scotland and Nick Stevens won a bit of the ball and there was a very encouraging 26-touch game from Luke Blackwell. Kade Simpson and Adam Bentick did alright. Fevola (and Deluca) kicked 2 each. The following week, Geelong on the rebound from their mauling in Adelaide, was not a happy time. Murphy didn’t play and Matty Lappin was a late withdrawal too. Carlton battled hard in the first half but the Cats’ phenomenal accuracy put ‘em under great pressure, the Catters booted 5 straight in the first quarter (G. Ablett 3) and only missed one of 12 shots to half-time (at which point the Blues were 4.7). Carlton did kick 3 straight during the third term including a Fevola bomb and a miraculous Andrew Carrazzo snap, but the Cats responded with three more prior to the final change before the game wound down in the last. Fevola booted 4 goals and Scotland and Simpson played alright, Cory McGrath (replacing Lappin) and Lance Whitnall were okay. Josh Kennedy showed promise. Pagan was disappointed. "We did so many positive things in the last three weeks. You look around the ground and a lot of our guys dropped their heads and you see a chain reaction. We've got to get a better balance between attack and defence. We know it was disappointing and there are some kids that are going to make it and be there for a long while. I'm sure people are sick of me talking like that but that's the reality of it."

Collingwood

R13 Richmond 13.14.92 d. Collingwood 6.9.45 at the MCG
R14 St. Kilda 19.8.122 d. Collingwood 9.9.63 at Docklands

Their slump had to come sometime and here it is - huzzah! Having just completed a very good win in Sydney, the Pies’ve followed up with two poor losses. Round 13 at the MCG was played in steady drizzle and the Poise, perhaps feeling some let-down following the heavily-hyped Siddey game, failed to adapt to the conditions. They trailed by 27 points at quarter-time (having scored just 0.2) and a hefty 55 points at half-time (Pie score now 1.2). Things improved after half-time, but not by enough to make a dent on the scoreboard. Jim Clement, Ben Johnson and Nathan Buckley were best on a forgettable day. Anthony Rocca and Alan Didak kicked 3 goals each, the Poise entire total. If that were an aberration, the following week was seen in a more serious light. In front of a sold-out Docklands (48,500) the Maggies were geed-up and booted the first three goals of the game from lively Dale Thomas, Buckley and Fraser. But the running Saints scored the next four of the quarter to lead at the first break and went on to kick the first three goals of the second term, too. Sinkilda led by 22 points at half-time and quickly took a stranglehold in the third term, moving to a 49-point lead with a string of goals on-the-run. The Saints went further ahead in the lackluster final term. The Poise forward-line was very poor in this game; Rocca and Didak went goal-less and Leon Davis was absent, injured I think. Malthouse was moved to defend whipping-boy Chris Tarrant, goal-less and with only 5 marks in the last three games. Buckley was good again as was Scott Burns (2 goals each, too), Josh Fraser and Heath Shaw played well. But Malthouse reckoned too many were ‘down’. "It's hard to think that we could have got worse than last week, but I think today was pretty ordinary," he said. "Mind you they (Saints) are a good football side and they did everything right and we didn't. I'm surprised, I must say that we came into this game thinking that we had a reasonable squad to play. For all intents and purposes if you look at the first five minutes we showed what we are capable of, but we just have no consistency at the moment and unfortunately the downs are a long way down."

Essendon

R13 North Melbourne 14.12.96 d. Essendon 13.11.89 at Docklands
R14 Fremantle 19.11.125 d. Essendon 12.16.88 at Subiaco

Operation Spoon ‘n’ Draft continued on schedule as the Dons extended their losing streak to 13, one shy of the worst in the clubs’ history. A club bout of ‘flu and injuries to James Hird and ‘Dustbin’ Fletcher haven’t helped. Sheeds was a prominent spectator at the National Under-18 Championships, observing kids like Jack Riewoldt (cousin) and SA wunderkind Bryce Gibbs. Anyways, the Dons were there-abouts in both these games but didn’t get the lollies in either. Against the Ruse, the Dons committed a stream of early handling errors to give the Kangas the early advantage but Jim Hird helped ‘em grab a 5-point lead by half-time. Essadun led by 11 points midway through the third, thanks to a Joel Reynolds goal and a Camporeale bomb. Reynolds then missed a shot which would’ve sent the Dons 3 goals ahead and the Kangas responded by blasting 5 sausages in 7 minutes, claiming a 19-point lead going into the final term. The Dons battled away into the last quarter but couldn’t bridge the gap, debutant Andrew Lee goaling after the final siren. Brent Stanton was the Dons’ best while David Hille, Jobe Watson, Andrew Welsh and Hird all played well. Hird, Scott Lucas and Nathan Lovett-Murray kicked 2 goals each. In the intervening week poor ol’ Hird injured himself again, a calf-muscle strain at training - a month, they reckon. In a piece of good news, injured Matty Lloyd signed on for another 3 years. The Dons traveled west with the “youngest side I’ve ever coached”, Sheeds reckoned. A fiery, fight-strewn opening saw Lovett-Murray reported for a lovely right cross to Matthew Carr’s jaw. When the game settled down the Dokkas took charge, finishing the first quarter with 7 goals to the Dons’ 3. Essadun played well in the second term but wasted it with poor conversion. Courtney Johns took some nice grabs in attack but postered twice and Ricky Dyson missed a sitter as the Bummers ended the korter with 2.6, but they’d held the Shockers to one goal and trailed by 16 points at the long break. As in the previous week, the Dons’ opposition managed a rapid five-goal blast to take charge in the third, Fremantle moving 45 points clear. The Dons replied with three in quick succession to get within 26 points, but they could get no closer in the final stanza as the locals kicked clear. Johns impressed for Essadun with 3.4 but finished on the bench with a rib injury (insert heart joke here) while senior men Scott Camporeale, Mark and Jason Johnson tried hard, Stanton and Welsh were okay again. Angus Monfries and Jason Johnson kicked 2 goals each, Monfries and Fletcher finished with injuries. "They probably jumped us at the start and had a pretty good first quarter, but we fought back in the game I thought pretty well," Sheedy said. "We just really struggled to reward ourselves for fairly good work done in the middle of the game. Every time we got an opportunity to catch up on the scoreboard we just let it go with poor kicking and some poor disposals."

Footscray

R13 Footscray 10.13.73 d. West Coast 8.16.64 at Subiaco
R14 North Melbourne 13.16.94 d. Footscray 12.10.82 at the MCG

Mixed results for the Doggies, a terrific win over the Weegs at Subiaco followed by an upset defeat at the hands of the Ruse. The meedya saw it all in terms of ‘Rocket’ Eade’s prowess, impressive in WA and strangely awry at the ‘G. The Dogs went way out west with a plan to tackle relentlessly, play man-on-man and stop the Eegs’ rebound run. It resulted in a scrappy, tight game but one in which the Bullies emerged triumphant. The Weegs scored the first goal of the game but the Bullpups managed the next four, two from the excellent Brad Johnson., before Judd bagged a late (first-quarter) one for the Eegs. The Dogs lost yet another player to a serious injury, promising rookie Shaun Higgins with a broken elbow (ouch). The ball pinged from end-to-end in the second term but the Bulldogs butchered the Sherrin in attack, booting a wayward 0.6 to West Ghost’s 2.2 which left the Bullies a point ahead at the long break. Three quick goals to open the third term had the Dogs 19 points up and throughout a slogging 20 minutes they held and even extended the advantage, restricting the Weegs to 0.4 for the quarter with some flooding defence. The Wiggles scored the first goal of the final term but Johnson answered for the Dogs. The Weegs, without injured Cox, booted the next two goals before a running Brett Montgomery sausage sealed it for the Doggies. Scott West racked up 39 possessions and Brad Johnson booted 4 goals in stand-out performances; Lindsay Gilbee, Ryan Griffen and Nathan Eagleton were all very good in a great team effort. Eade was rapt. "I could really (use) every superlative possible to describe the feeling about (the win). It was a great win. Except for a final I think it was probably the greatest club win I've been involved with, including my time at Hawthorn,” he said. The following week provoked opposite feelings. The Kangas placed hard tags on West, Johnson and Gilbee and the Doggies struggled. Norf led by 11 points at the first break and 18 points at half-time. Five minutes into the third term the Northerners led by 27 points and their junior Andrew Swallow missed a coupla easy shots. The Dogs sparked into action, led by pocket-spearhead Matty Robbins. He bagged two of four quick goals which had the Dogs 5 points behind at the final change. A fantastic snap from Robbins early in the last put the Dogs in front, but the Ruse responded with the next three goals to steady. Rohan Smith kicked a consolation major at the end. Robbins, with 4 goals, was probably the Pups’ best while Griffen, Daniel Cross and Smith (3 goals) all played well. West was ‘restricted’ to 21 touches by Brady Rawlings while Johnson went goal-less. As far as Eade was concerned, only Robbins and defender Dale Morris won their positions.

Fremantle

R13 Sydney 12.19.91 d. Fremantle 9.4.58 at the SCG
R14 Fremantle 19.11.125 d. Essendon 12.16.88 at Subiaco

Some relief for the Dockulators last weekend as they ended a 3-game losing streak against the bottom-dwelling Bombouts, but the Dokkers continue to muddle along. Journo Mike Sheahan suggested no-one at Freo knows who’s in their best side and where they should play; this came following the Essadun game, in which ‘late replacement’ Ryan Crowley booted 4 goals and was almost BOG. Yet he seems to be dropped every other week. The trip to Sydney saw Freo play well for three quarters before being blown away in the final term. Like Collingwood, the Swans seemed to have some hangover from the big game at Stadium Ostraya the previous week; they started slowly and Freo, smarting from their insipid effort against the Cats prior to the break, were determined. Ryan Murphy booted the opening goal and Matty Pavlich followed up with two to give Freo a 13-point lead at korter-time. Skipper Peter Bell, back from injury, goaled early in the second but the Swans began to wake up and closed the gap to 4 points by the long break. Defensive bungling allowed Siddey to grab the lead early in the third term, but the Shockers banged on three quick goals to take charge, two more from the rampant Pavlich and one for Josh Carr. They led by 15 points but were a bit lucky to be still 1 point ahead at the final change as the Bloods scored 1.8 to three-quarter-time. The Swans stormed home with 6 goals to 1 in the final quarter. Pavlich was easily Freo’s best with 4 goals, ex-Swan Troy Cook, Bell and Shane Parker (on Hall) were all good. A disappointing result though and it made the home game against Essadun a must-win. Luke McPharlin (ankle) and Luke Webster (ill) were late pull-outs, replaced by Byron Schammer and Crowley. Nerves emerged as fighting dominated the opening minutes, Bomma Lovett-Murray reported for biffing Matthew Carr. After early goals were shared Freo romped clear with four goals to one in the second half of the opening term, Murphy handy in attack. Unfortunately Josh Carr strained a calf muscle late in the stanza, his game (and the next few) over. Essadun played well in the second quarter but wasted it with poor shooting, the Freo highlight of the term being a big grab (and awkward landing) from David Mundy. Freo didn’t take charge again until midway through the third term with a five-goal burst, Crowley kicking two of them while Pavlich and Murphy were also handy forwards. Freo led by 45 points at this stage but their own mistakes helped the Bumbers bag three-in-a-row and get back within 26 points by the final change. But the Dons couldn’t sustain the pressure and Freo went to the line with four goals to two in the last. Crowley, Murphy and Pavlich booted 4 goals each while Paul Hasleby displayed some overdue form, veteran Shaun McManus played well as did Troy Cook and Steven Dodd. Coach Chris Connolly, like most spectators, was not entirely convinced. "The second quarter was really disappointing," Connolly said. "I think Essendon went inside (the forward 50) 15 times to our five and it certainly made us vulnerable, but we regrouped at half time and had a very good second half. In the end it was a good solid win. It was a free-flowing game and to kick 19 goals is very positive."

Geelong

R13 Adelaide 21.21.147 d. Geelong 8.7.55 at Football Park
R14 Geelong 23.4.142 d. Carlton 11.11.77 at Docklands

Two very contrasting results for the Cats against the best and (arguably) worst teams in the leeg. Flat-track bullies? The Catters defeated the Camrys at Foopall Park in the pre-season comp final but that seemed a very long time ago upon the latest visit. Possibly in a galaxy far, far away. The Cats started alright-ish, aided by a steady breeze and Camry inaccuracy. Geelong trailed by 8 points at korter-time and Kent Kingsley had kicked a goal, finally. But the Katz were already being out-run and had a poor tendency to over-use the ball. Strange when long-kicking had brought their best result of the season against Freo, prior to the break. Gary Ablett and Paul Chapman booted early goals in the second stanza but the Crowbots strode clear with the next four majors, ending with 7.6 to 2.1 for the term. The wind and heavy Cat flooding limited the damage to four Camry goals in the third, but the Cats scored just one themselves before another 7-goal Crowbot deluge in the final term. Utterly forgettable for the Cats, only Corey Enright, Chapman and Darren Milburn emerged with anything resembling dignity. Multiple changes were made for the Carlton game. Most notably Kingsley, James Kelly and Nathan Ablett were dropped and injury-plagued forward Matt McCarthy called up along with Andrew Mackie and David Johnson. The Cats’ amazing accuracy aided a fast start, Gary Ablett booting 3 of the opening-term 5.0 to Carlton’s 2.5. Geelong proceeded to boot 6.1 to the Blues’ 2.2 in the second term, McCarthy and full-back Matty Scarlett scoring early in the stanza to kick free of the Bluesers. Carlton stayed close with the next two goals but the Cats bagged four in time-on to go 36 points ahead at half-time. The Cats got three more early in the third term, moving to a 54-point lead before the Bluies managed a run-on, with three straight majors themselves. But the Cats soon had three more, including two from the busy McCarthy, to be well in control by the final term. The Cats went on to boot 6 goals to 4 in an open final quarter. Cameron Mooney (2 goals) was excellent at CHF again while Cat fans cheered (sincerely) a freely-moving Steven King. McCarthy finished with 5 goals and Gary Ablett 3 plus numerous ‘assists’, Cameron Ling, Chapman (2 goals), Joel Corey and Corey Enright were all good. ‘Bomber’ Thompson said "We had a bit of a hiccup last week against Adelaide, but today we certainly bounced back pretty strongly. I was a little bit worried during the week that we were a bit hungover from the Adelaide game, but certainly by quarter-time I knew that we were going to be OK. It was a big shock for us last week . . . so there was a fair bit of work put in around the Geelong footy club this week to try and get their mental state right." He’s talking finals again.

Hawthorn

R13 St. Kilda 18.17.125 d. Hawthorn 8.7.55 at Docklands.
R14 West Coast 17.12.114 d. Hawthorn 16.8.104 at the MCG.

A poor result followed by a frustrating one. Struggling Hawk spearhead Mark Williams was dropped for the Sinkilda game as Richie Vandenberg, Brent Guerra and Trent Croad returned. The Hawks had some expectations following the win over Richmond prior to the break, yet they were 36 points behind at quarter-time having scored just one point - the Hawks must have set some sort of record for goal-less quarters this season, as they failed to raise the twin calicoes in the third term, either. There was a fair bit of aggression early as Saint discard Guerra threw his weight about for the Hawks, managing to get himself reported again. But Guerra ended up departing with a cut above an eye. A 50m penalty gifted the Saints the first goal and the Hawks didn’t improve from there, really. John Barker and Chance Bateman scored the first two goals of the second term, but the Saints kicked 5 to 1 from there to half-time. With Williams out, the Hawks had no forward target as Franklin and Dixon struggled; Croad shifted forward in the third term but to no avail as the margin blew out to 85 points by the final change. The Saints put the cue in the rack late in the game and the Hawks managed four late goals, two for Ben Dixon. Sam Mitchell, Jarryd Roughead (on Gehrig), Luke Hodge and Campbell Brown played okay. Williams was back (and Guerra suspended) for the following week, the Hawks played much better. Freezing cold at the ‘G as both sides scored 5 goals in the first quarter, with some tough, direct, man-on-man footy. ‘Spida’ Everitt, in his 250th game, provided much drive for the Hawks. Mitchell and Hodge were very good, Croad and chastened Williams strong in attack. The Hawks bagged four consecutive goals during the second quarter (Miller, Hodge, Franklin, Croad) to go 25 points ahead. Franklin hammered Ben Cousins with a great bump, appearing to badly damage Cousins’s shoulder. But Cuz came back after half-time and the Eegs managed some retribution, Franklin’s own shoulder hurt in a gang-tackle from Eegs Waters and Fletcher. The Eegs kicked four goals of their own but trailed by 7 points at half-time. The tense battle continued with four goals each in the third stanza. Everitt scored a beauty for the Hawks, tapping to Miller at a throw-in, running ahead to mark Miller’s high kick and pop it through. Hawks still by 5 points at the last change. Cousins put the Weegs ahead early in the last. Weeg Daniel Kerr was reported for punching Mitchell in the orchestras, an incident captured wincingly on TV. Williams replied with a goal for the Hawks. Croad shanked poorly, failing to make the distance from 40m and from the rebound move Weeg Lynch marked and banana-goaled, although there was controversy as the ball appeared to be out-of-bounds at least once in the build-up. Another Williams goal put Horforn ahead again, but Embley and prodigal Michael Gardiner majored in the final minutes to drag the Weegs across the line. Heart-breaking. Everitt (18 disposals, 31 hit-outs) was great on his milestone and Mitchell (35 touches) and Hodge were very good. Williams booted 5 goals and Croad 3, Bateman and Grant Birchall played well. "I thought it was a terrific game of footy," Clarkson said. "There was some fantastic features of Aussie Rules footy and it was a fair dinkum contest until the about the 28-minute mark of the last quarter . . . but I thought it was a super contest between two sides that you wouldn't have thought going to the game that you were going to get that high-spirited and skilful contest." What’s he saying? His own lads are no good?

Melbourne

R13 Melbourne 18.12.120 d. Port Adelaide 12.10.82 at the MCG
R14 Melbourne 14.14.98 d. Brisbane 13.12.90 at the Gabba

The Dees continue to roll along, two more wins making it five in-a-row and ten of the last eleven, after Melbun lost the first three. Folks are touting their improved depth, with players like Paul Wheatley and Clint Bizzell left in the VFL and Lynden Dunn dropped last week to re-incorporate Brad Miller. The word ‘premiership’ is being used, cautiously. No snow trips this winter (not yet, anyway). The Round 13 game was seen as a big one given Port’s rapid improvement in the preceding weeks. The Dees set the pace through the first half but couldn’t shake off the determined Flowers. David Neitz bagged two early goals, but the Power ground into the lead before two Russ Robertson majors in time-on helped the Deez to a 10-point lead at the first change. Tight midfield battle continued in the second term, scores leveled before Adem Yze converted from a free-kick late in the half and the Deez led by a goal at the long break. Scrappy, nervous footy opened the third term before Port scored a goal, but the Demuns replied with the next three to take a handy 20-point lead, Neitz booting two of them sausages. Cam Bruce was burning for the Dees, as injured opponent Chad Cornes went to the bench. Goals were exchanged for a bit but Melbun booted the final pair of the third to lead by 29 points at the last change. The Demuns bagged four unanswered majors to start the final term and the fat lady sang. Dave Neitz finished resting on the bench with 5 goals, Bruce (29 disposals), Brock McLean, Yze and Travis Johnstone were all very good in the midfield. Russ Robertson booted 3 goals. The Dees journeyed to the Gabba for their transferred home game the following week and won a tough battle. Brisbun stormed out with 5 goals to the Dees’ 2 in the first quarter, the Demuns unable to contain Lyin’s Bradshaw and Black. They resorted to flooding to hold out the rampant Lyin’ on-ballers. Johnstone and Brad Green, the former stat-less in the first term, got the Dees moving after korter-time. They scored the first three goals of the second Mario to level the scores, but unstoppable Bradshaw helped the Brians to a 2-goal lead by the long rest. No doubt the Demuns copped a blast from Daniher in the break and they emerged with three quick goals to start the third term, all from Neitz, two set up by Green. Aaron Davey soccer-volleyed a freakish goal but the Lyin’s clung on to hold a slender 1-point lead at the final change. The Dees put the hammer down and kicked four of the first five goals of the final term, taking a decisive 20-point lead. The Brians kept coming and kicked the final two goals of the game. But time ran out. Amongst a patchy Dee performance Cam Bruce stood out again, Brad Green and Travis Johnstone were also very good. Defenders Matty Whelan and Jared Rivers played well too, Neitz finished with 4 goals and Yze was alright. "In previous times they (the Lions) could have easily kicked an eight-goal (first) quarter," Daniher said. "So I was pleased with that (first-quarter flooding) and we weren't far away at half-time and we were able to outscore them in the second half."

North Melbourne

R13 North Melbourne 14.12.96 d. Essendon 13.11.89 at Docklands
R14 North Melbourne 13.16.94 d. Footscray 12.10.82 at the MCG

Norf have racked up three consecutive wins to mount a late, probably futile challenge for the eight. Victories over fellow cellar-dwellers Carlton and Essadun may not have been especially noteworthy, but a good upset win over the Dogs brought some attention. Excitement was tempered last weekend by Glenn Archer’s dislocated shoulder, followed by speculation his career may be over. The Essadun game was Shannon Grant’s 250th and also saw Sav Rocca recalled from the VFL. Some Bummer clangers aided the Ruse to an 11-point lead at quarter-time. The Bombouts played well in the second term . Norf started it alright with Wells a driving force, Firrito and Thompson goaled (the latter after crashing into the goal-post while marking) and the Kangas led by 20 points. But the Dons, led by Hird, forged back and booted the next four goals to lead by 5 points at half-time. Thompson put the Ruse ahead again early in the third but the Bommers replied with the next 2 majors to take an 11-point lead. Bomma Reynolds missed an easy shot as the Kangas stared down the barrel, but they responded by blasting 5 goals in 7 minutes. Centre-clearances provided the chances and Jess Sinclair got the scoreboard moving, then Rocca thundered one home from 60m. Ruckman David Hale slotted and Rocca boomed a monster home again, Thommo completed the burst and the Ruse led by 19 points at the final change. The Dons kept at it in the last, aided by misses from Grant and Brady Rawlings. The Dons goaled to get within 14 and then, after a Sinclair goal, 13 points but the Kangas held them out, the Dons scoring a major after the siren. Thompson finished with 4 goals and Harvey (32 disposals) was excellent, Archer, Wells, Simpson and Grant all contributed. The Bulldog game was seen as a tougher assignment and the Kangas approached it in a hard-headed manner, placing hard tags on Scott West (Brady Rawlings), Brad Johnson (Shannon Watt) and Lindsay Gilbee (Troy Makepeace). Drew Petrie also proved a useful defender on Chris Grant and the continued, excellent form of Thompson helped them to the win. Goals were swapped early before the Kangas scored the last two of the opening term to take an 11-point lead to the first break. Thompson bagged a major early in the second stanza and set one up for Daniel Harris to send the Kangas 23 points ahead. But the Roos began to miss shots and the Dogs clawed back before a late Leigh Brown goal sent Norf 18 points ahead at the long break. Archer dislocated his shoulder just before half-time, diving full-length to punch the ball on the ground. The Ruse continued to look the goods into the third term, two early goals including one gifted to Makepeace by a Rohan Smith clanger sent them 27 points ahead. But Norf continued to miss shots, including two poor efforts from junior Andrew Swallow. The Dogs banged on four goals in time-on to trail by just 5 points at the final change and they hit the front with a great Matty Robbins snap early in the last. But the Ruse were not to be denied, Firrito switched onto Robbins and the Kangas scored the next 3 goals to steady, two from ‘Lethal’ Leigh Harding. Thompson (5 goals) was great again and Petrie terrific at CHB, Watt kept Brad Johnson goal-less, Makepeace and Rawlings did their jobs well. Jess Sinclair, David Hale and Corey Jones played well. "They're a very good side, the Bulldogs, and I'm just so pleased for the boys," Laidley said. "Three wins on the trot . . . and to beat a terrific side like that with their run, being one man down, I thought was a great effort." Big game against Brisbane this weekend.

Port Adelaide

R13 Melbourne 18.12.120 d. Port Adelaide 12.10.82 at the MCG
R14 Richmond 14.8.92 d. Port Adelaide 6.18.54 at Football Park

Injuries and inaccuracy blunted Port’s mid-season charge. The Melbun game was built up as Port’s big test, their form going in was as good as any in the leeg. Port had Daniel Motlop, Peter Burgoyne and Warren Tredrea back in the side but Tredders struggled and appeared not 100%. Battered ribs for Chad Cornes at the opening bounce - which eventually forced him off - and two quick Neitz goals set them back but a great Josh Mahoney thread had Port moving. Dom Cassisi punted them in front before two quick Dee goals grabbed Melbun an 8-point lead at the first break. Melbun goaled first in the second quarter but consecutive Shaun Burgoyne majors leveled the scores. Backman Brad Symes was pinged for ‘bawl’ and Demun Yze converted the free-kick to give Melbun a 6-point lead at half-time. Following a scrappy start to the third term Symes redeemed himself by catching Rivers in possession and free-kicking a sausage. But the Dees put the hammer down and kicked 6 of the next 8 goals to take a 29-point lead into the final change. C. Cornes had limped off and his man Bruce was playing very well. Port’s two goals in that run came from Mahoney, a good effort, and Michael Pettigrew who saw his kick deflect off the goal-umpire. The Demuns rattled on the first four goals of the final quarter and it was all over. Shaun Burgoyne (28 disposals, 3 goals) continued his brilliant form and Kane Cornes, Mahoney (3 goals), Motlop and Symes all played well. The following week against Richmun didn’t go well. Chad Cornes was out, goals were swapped early but Port appeared sluggish, not helped by Tiger captain Johnson’s hard tag on Shaun Burgoyne. Stew Dew was reported for biffing Tiger Polo. Poor old Pete Burgoyne’s hammy ripped again late in the first quarter and it seemed to deflate the side, the Tiges kicked two quick goals to lead by 6 points at the first break. Port couldn’t get any run going and couldn’t kick straight (Tredrea especially). The Tigers kicked three goals to one in the second quarter and led by 15 points at half-time. Port’s best period came early in the third term but they scored three straight behinds before the Tigers responded with three quick goals to go 31 points ahead. Port ended the quarter with 0.6 and it was over. Tredrea, struggling, was benched during the final term. Kane Cornes and running flankers Nathan Lonie and Steven Salopek were Port’s best players, Danyle Pearce did a bit. Peter Walsh and Troy Chaplin saw a bit of the ball. Port had six goal-kickers. Mark Williams defended Shaun Burgoyne, who had a close friend die during the preceding week. Of the game he said "You're not going to win too many games kicking 6.18. It was really poor and I'm disappointed with that. Also our on-ballers, Peter and Shaun, and at half-time, Thomson, (Danyle) Pearce, Lade couldn't touch the ball. That was a real problem for us - we couldn't get any flow."   

Richmond

R13 Richmond 13.14.92 d. Collingwood 6.9.45 at the MCG
R14 Richmond 14.8.92 d. Port Adelaide 6.18.54 at Football Park

The Tiges bounced back from a poor pre-break loss to Horforn with two very good wins. Maybe they can make the eight. The Tiggers are in now and the form of the sides below them is not overly inspiring. One major worry for the Tiges is the rate at which they’re collecting injuries, solid defender Chris Newman suffered a Nathan Brown-style broken leg against Collingwood and he’ll be out for a year, it’s also confirmed Mark Coughlan suffered knee-ligament damage against the Hawks and he’ll miss the remainder of this season, at least. The Tiges went in very much the underdogs against Collywood but wet weather and the Tiges’ determined attitude helped things along. Led by ruckman Troy ‘Snake’ Simmonds, Pat Bowden and Andrew Krakouer the Tiges bounded into a 27-point lead by quarter-time, restricting the Magpiss to 0.2 for the quarter. Jay Schulz, back for his first game since round 2, scored the opening goal, Nathan Brown set up Richard Tambling for one and then dobbed a sausage himself before a great Krakouer snap completed first-term proceedings. One-way traffic into the second term, the Pies managed their first goal before the Tiges responded with majors from Brown, two from Shane Tuck and another for Krakouer. Newman broke his leg during this period, a clash of shins with Leon Davis, but the Tigers had galloped to a 55-point lead by half-time, the Poise with still just one goal on the board. The rain stopped for the second half but the Pies could make no inroads into the third term, two Rocca goals answered by Schulz and Krakouer. The Pies outscored the Tiges by a goal in the final quarter but it was irrelevant, the Tiges completed a very good win. Simmonds was terrific and Patrick Bowden (30 disposals) very good in defence, along with Andy Kellaway and Andrew Raines. Schulz and Krakouer kicked 3 goals each, Brown and Tuck (2 goals each) were also good. The Tiggers backed it up with their first-ever win over Port at Foopall Park. Richo returned from his broken wrist and galloped enthusiastically, if not very effectively, about the forward-line. Goals were shared in a tough opening, fat Port man Dew biffed Dean Polo and Chris Hyde was clattered by Wilson in creating a goal for Tuck. Port man Peter Burgoyne twanged his hammy again late in the first korter and Port heads dropped immediately, Schulz and Brown scored late goals for the Tiges to give them a 6-point lead at the first break. The Tiges out-ran Port in the second and continued to take their chances, Simmonds snapped a good one and Schulz and Brown added goals. Port were inaccurate and the Big Pussies led by 15 points at the long break. Decisive part came early in the third term as Port missed a string of kickable shots, only to see the Tiges follow with three quick goals. Brown bagged two of ‘em and Pat Bowden another, suddenly the Tiggers were 31 points ahead and very much in the driver’s seat. Simmonds booted another 5 minutes later to send the Tiges further ahead and they outscored Port in the final term, too. Song sang with gusto afterwards. Kane Johnson did a great job on S. Burgoyne and Simmonds was terrific again, the brothers Bowden racked up the stats in defence and Tuck (2 goals) played well. Krakouer (2 goals), Kayne Pettifer and Nathan Brown (3 goals) were all important contributors. "Once we got that stretch of five or six (goals) in front, we were quite happy to pack up shop at that stage. I just don't like leaving the door open for sides on their home ground,” said Wallace. "I thought our skipper absolutely led the way from start to finish. I thought the job Kane did on Shaun Burgoyne was just outstanding. I don't think there's been a player in the competition in better form than Shaun over a six or seven-week period."

St. Kilda

R13 St. Kilda 18.17.125 d. Hawthorn 8.7.55 at Docklands.
R14 St. Kilda 19.8.122 d. Collingwood 9.9.63 at Docklands

Déjà vu for Stainer fans. Last year Sinkilda staggered into the mid-season break with a 6-7 record and emerged to win 8 of the last 9. Two very good wins have followed this season’s ordinary pre-break period. First-up the Saints pounded a very ordinary Horforn. Rob Harvey played despite an apparent strained hamstring in round 12. Only inaccuracy prevented a worse first-quarter hiding, the Stainers booting 5.7 to the Hoks’ miserable one point. Ex-Saint Brent Guerra was one of several Hawks to try some physical stuff, but he came off second-best with a cut head and a report for charging Dal Santo. Brett Voss booted the first goal with the help of a 50m penalty and they kept on tumblin’ through. The Hawks scored the first two goals of the second term but the Stainers kicked the next 5, Gehrig with the first two in that run. The Horks managed a late goal in the second to slash the Satin’s lead to 48 points at the long break but the Saints again held Horforn goal-less in the third term. The pressure brought goals as Ackland, Milne and Riewoldt joined in the scoring. The Saints led by 85 points at the last change and 94 during the last quarter, but eased off and allowed the Hoks to boot the final four goals of the afternoon. The only down-side. Fraser Gehrig finished with 5 goals and Nick Riewoldt 4 with 14 marks, Harvey was terrific with 24 touches and 3 goals. Dal Santo and the defensive trio of Hudghton, Maguire and Voss were all very good. The Saints did suffer another injury though, a hammy for Troy Schwarze. The Collywood game received a massive build-up and a sold-out crowd at Docklands. Smarting from the shock loss to Richmun the week before, the Poise were fired-up and booted three quick goals to start proceedings. But the Saints settled quickly and punted the next four sausages to quarter-time, Leigh Montagna converted a pass from Riewoldt and Xavier Clarke, Riewoldt and Stephen Milne followed suit. Montagna, Milne and Harvey goaled in rapid succession in the second term and the Saints had romped clear. The Pies broke the run and scored a coupla goals but each was answered in turn by a classy Brendon Goddard ‘steal’ and thump and Gehrig’s lead-mark-goal. Saints by 22 points at the long break. Jason Gram booted a running major to open the third term, the Poise replied but the Saints rattled on another four from Gehig, Voss, Riewoldt and Aaron Fiora. Sinkilda a definitive 49 points ahead now. The Pies managed a couple but Milne snapped truly just before the final change and there was no final-stanza let-up this week, the Satiners booting 4 goals to 1 in the last. Sinkilda’s backline was the key again as Hudghton (on Tarrant), Maguire (Rocca) and Steven Baker (Didak) did superbly, with able assistance from Voss and Gram. Montagna (2 goals) and Goddard were good, Milne and Riewoldt booted 3 goals each. Coach Grant Thomas said "Obviously it was a huge game for both clubs and it was a real positive that we were able to back up from last week's win (over Hawthorn) and do it again in a big game. It's not season-defining yet but it's an important step for us. We didn't have any passengers today and we worked really hard as a group so I thought it was a really solid performance from us."

Sydney

R13 Sydney 12.19.91 d. Fremantle 9.4.58 at the SCG
R14 Adelaide 15.11.101 d. Sydney 8.14.62 at the SCG

They’re suddenly less bullish in Coathanger City with three losses in the last four, and the win wasn’t so convincing either. The inaccuracy which plagued the Swans’ poor early-season last year is back, along with a reliance on too few. A fortnight back the Bloods took a long time to kill off battling Freo. Jared Crouch’s 7-year (?) unbroken sequence of games came to an end with a shoulder problem, he was replaced by Jarred Moore. Barry Hall, swamped by Dokka backmen, missed two early shots before Freo kicked the game’s first 3 goals to go 19 points ahead. Adam Schneider got a late sausage for Siddey but the sandgropers led by 13 points at korter-time. O’Loughlin, Fosdike and Schneider continued the goal-kicking atrocities early in the second before Freo bagged another goal. The Swans started to wake up and scored 4 of the next 5 goals, including 2 for Nick Davis and one from O’Loughlin. Siddey trailed by 3 points at the long break. Jarrad McVeigh marked and converted early in the third Mario to put the Swans ahead, but the Dokkers got the next three goals to go 15 points ahead, a clanger from Paul Bevan causing one. The Swans had the next 9 shots at goal but only O’Loughlin got six points as the Bloods ground to within a point at the last change. After some ugly footy Luke Vogels, in for his first game of the season, booted the opening goal of the final term. Moore snapped one and then had a hand in one for McVeigh. Schneider converted before two more Davis goals completed the victory. Schneider (3 goals) was very good and O’Loughlin (2 goals) worked hard in attack as Hall was buried. Davis’s 4 goals proved handy as did McVeigh’s 2, Tadhg Kennelly, Lewis Roberts-Thomson and Amon Buchanan were useful. The game against the Camrys was sold as a ‘Grand Final Preview’ in Siddey. Locals will hope not as the Camrys won well. A typically tight opening term saw just three goals scored, O’Keefe and O’Loughlin got a couple for the Swans to have ‘em 4 points up at the first break. They were battling hard. A Brett Kirk clanger allowed Ricciuto to kick the first goal of the second term and the running Crowbots began to take charge, three goals in as many minutes and the next one after that seeing them scoot clear - although TV showed 2 goals from Camry Johncock shouldn’t have been awarded, one was touched through and the other soccer-effort had already crossed the line. Very quiet Davis got a late second-term major for the Swans but the Camrys replied in the dying seconds and they led by 26 points at half-time. The Bloods tried hard in the third term but more mistakes, both in goal-shooting and otherwise - a dropped Jude Bolton mark allowed Ricciuto another goal - cruelled their efforts. Siddey scored 1.5, O’Loughlin’s terrible miss from 20m the stone that nailed the glasshouse shut, or something. The Corollas led by 28 points at the last change and Siddey had just 4 goals on the board. The Cressidas got the opening goal of the final term and it was a long way back for the Bloods, they did score 4 more goals but the Addleaid men got 5. Siddey’s stars were quiet, Hall goal-less for the second week running, and their better players were men like Vogels, McVeigh (2 goals), Roberts-Thomson and Sean Dempster. O’Loughlin and Adam Goodes tried hard. "We played very poorly after quarter time and you can't do that against the 16th side in the competition let alone the first team in the competition," Roos said after the game. "We didn't give ourselves an opportunity to test ourselves against the best team in the competition."

West Coast

R13 Footscray 10.13.73 d. West Coast 8.16.64 at Subiaco
R14 West Coast 17.12.114 d. Hawthorn 16.8.104 at the MCG.

The Weevils’ star is waning as their form continues to be less than convincing. A shock loss at home to the Bulldogs - the first Victorian team to beat them at Subiaco for 4 years – was followed by a lucky escape against the lowly Hawks. Amongst all that Michael Gardiner was recalled from the footy wilderness (well, Claremont) as star ruckman Dean Cox suffered a broken collarbone. The Bulldogs arrived in Perth with a plan to play flooded, tight defence and attack on a break. It worked. Adam Hunter booted the game’s opening goal for the Weegs but the Weegs couldn’t contain Bully Johnson, who kicked 2 of the next 4 goals from the Dogs, or Scott West. Resting Chris Judd snapped a late first-stanza goal to have the Weegs 9 points behind at the first break. The ball raced from end-to-end in the second term but neither side could score, Eegs Staker and Hunter got the only goals as the Pups managed 0.6 to lead by a point at half-time. The Dogs opened up a 19-point lead early in the third with three quick goals. The Weegs attacked a lot but couldn’t break through before the visitors got another late goal, they led by 23 points at the final rest. Embley scored the opening goal of the final Mario, Johnson replied for the Doggies but then Weegs Selwood and Embley majored again, the crowd sensed yet another Weeg comeback win as they trailed by 11 points. But Cox’s injury (in a collision with Adam Cooney) and a running Bulldog goal blunted the momentum, West Ghost managed one more goal as the Dogs closed the game down. Defenders were the Weegs’ better players, full-back Darren Glass and rebound man David Wirrpanda, midfielders Judd, Cousins and Embley (2 goals) were okay. Former Demon Steven Armstrong was good in his first game for the Weegs. Interesting to see assistant coach Peter Sumich partly blame ‘partying’ for the loss - nothing to do with Gardiner being back, of course. The Weegs struggled in a high-quality game against the Hawks the next week. Five goals each were scored in the opening term before the Hawks kicked four in-a-row in the second term to take a 26-point lead. Everitt was killing the Cox-less Weevils in the ruck while Cousins appeared to sustain a serious shoulder injury in a heavy bump from Franklin. But Cuzza returned later and it was Franklin who was winged as Beau Waters and Chad Fletcher extracted retribution. The Weegs did hit back with four unanswered majors of their own before half-time and they levelled the scores early in the third term. Goals were exchanged from thereon and the Horks clung to a 5-point lead at the last break. Injury problems mounted for the Weegs, form backman Marc Nicoski was off with an ankle problem and Dan Chick had strained a calf-muscle. Cousins slotted a great running goal from the boundary to open the last term, but Hawk Williams replied. Dan Kerr was reported for punching Hawk Mitchell in the Jatz crackers. Tight footy followed before a rapid rebound and some friendly boundary-umpiring decisions allowed Quinten Lynch to mark on a very tight angle, he banana-ed it through and the Eags led. Williams put Horforn in front again but the Eagles got up in the final four minutes, Embley goaled on the run and Gardiner did something, converting after a big grab. Lynch (5 goals) played arguably his best game for the Wiggles and Judd (33 touches) was outstanding, Embley, Cousins, Michael Braun and Selwood were all very good. "We know we are not in brilliant form," coach John Worsfold said. "We know we can play better and our best footy is ahead of us. But we will keep working hard to try and get back into our best form and who knows when that will be, it could be one week away, it could be two weeks away." Grand Final replay next week, John?  

 

Ladder after Round Fourteen.

                 Pts.    %    Next Week
Adelaide         48    170.5    Hawthorn (Football Park, Saturday)
West Coast       44    114.8    Sydney (Subiaco, Sat. night)
Melbourne        40    114.8    Richmond (MCG, Fri. night)
Collingwood      36    116.8    Fremantle (MCG, Sunday)
Footscray        36    113.0    Carlton (Docklands, Sunday)
Sydney           32    117.2    West Coast (Subiaco, Sat. night)
St. Kilda        32    116.7    Essendon (MCG, Saturday)
Richmond         32     87.1    Melbourne (MCG, Fri. night)
----------------------------
Fremantle        28     89.5    Collingwood (MCG, Sunday)
Geelong          24    103.0    Port Adelaide (Kardinia Park, Sunday)
Port Adelaide    24     91.2    Geelong (Kardinia Park, Sunday)
Brisbane         20     92.6    North Melbourne (Docklands, Sat. night)
North Melbourne  20     84.0    Brisbane (Docklands, Sat. night)
Hawthorn         20     79.9    Adelaide (Football Park, Saturday)
Carlton           8     74.3    Footscray (Docklands, Sunday)
Essendon          4     75.1    St. Kilda (MCG, Saturday)


Cheers, Tim.

Article last changed on Thursday, July 20, 2006 - 1:37 PM EDT


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